Debian GNU/Linux Unstable (sid) on a Compaq Presario 1510US Laptop

Author: Patrick Lane


Last Updated: October 13th, 2002

The System:


As of this writing (October 13th, 2002), I have not tried to setup and/or use any of the following hardware:

You might be sketchy about running Debian unstable, but I can tell you this... I have had less problems running Debian unstable on my desktop for the past year and now on my laptop than I did trying RedHat 8.0 on my laptop for two days.


I started out with the Debian 3.0 Stable CD (woody). My laptop was already set up to boot from the CD so all that was required was inserting the CD and rebooting the computer (note, I had already setup my linux partitions using partition magic in windows).

I am assuming that you have some experience with linux and that you'll be able to make it through the installation process without any problems.

Setting Up Your Kernel

I downloaded the latest kernel release (2.4.19 at the time of this writing) and extracted it into the /usr/src/ directory. For convenience purposes, I made a symlink so /usr/src/linux-2.4.19 pointed to /usr/src/linux

ln -s /usr/src/linux-2.4.19 /usr/src/linux

Next you will need to configure the kernel for your system. I use

make menuconfig

to configure my kernel. To do this, you'll need libncurses, make, and a compiler installed:

apt-get install make g++ libncurses5*

should do the trick.

If you have never compiled the linux kernel, please refer to the Kernel HOWTO available at:

Kernel Settings

You'll wan't to enable prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers

Under General Setup you'll want to enable:

CDRW support:

FireWire (IEEE 1394) port:

Network Interface Card

USB support

External USB Mouse

Sound Card

After you compile your kernel, make sure that you update your /etc/lilo.conf file to point to the new kernel. Also, you'll want to add the line:


for CDRW support

Setting up your XFree86

The Xfree86 packages in woody don't support the Radeon 7500 card. You'll need to upgraded to Xfree86 4.2. To do this, edit your

/etc/apt/sources.list file to point to the debian unstable packages.

This is how my sources.list file looks:

deb stable/updates main

deb unstable main

deb-src unstable main

deb unstable/non-US main

deb-src unstable/non-US main

# Gnome 2

deb ../project/experimental main

deb-src ../project/experimental main


deb unstable main contrib

If you want Gnome2 and Open Office as well, add those lines.

After you update your sources.list file, run the following:

apt-get updated

apt-get dist-upgrade

If you selected the X Windows System packages during the install process, you know have Xfree86 4.2. The driver for the Radeon card is the ati driver.

If not...

apt-get install x-window-system

If you want Gnome2

apt-get -t experimental install gnome

If you want OpenOffice

apt-get install

If you need help with Debian, check out #debian on It's a very helpful channel, I may even be in there if you have questions about this particular setup. Please feel free to e-mail me any questions. I know I'm not the best document writer and I can imagine someone would have some questions about this horrendous document =). When I add support for the extra hardware, I'll update this page.